PDF composer

Designed & coded
Bootstrap | HTML5 | LESS | CSS3 | jQuery | PHP | Shell

This PDF Composer project has been an initiative to improve user experience and add some interactivity to the download section of some websites.

In the world of integrated reporting, delivering tailored information is the cutting edge level of what an online report could offer, the adoption of a friendly user interface was essential in this scenario to allow users compile their own custom report with available PDF documents and download it.


The interface is built with HTML5 on Boostrap reponsive framework, some PHP and Shell to merge the PDF documents, jQuery with Ajax were used for the manipulation of the DOM.

The application allows the user to select PDF documents from the left hand side with a click, the selected documents appear on the right hand side and added into an jQuery Array, Once the “generate” button is clicked, the PDF merging takes place. The merged PDF document is stored on the server and prompted to be downloaded by the user.

With the help of PHP session I could solve the issue of having two users merging different PDF documents at the same time, this increments a counter variable to allow us keep track of the number of generated PDF documents.

The idea of the Shell script came to mind when I tried to find a lighter version of the famous PDF library TCPDF, the latter is pretty powerful to generating and creating PDF documents from HTML with extensive styling possibilities, but in this case I was looking for a simple solution to merge PDF documents only without having to load all the library files that TCPDF needs.

The websites that used this application were hosted on a Linux server hence Shell came into play, Most Linux kernels come with Ghostscript interpreter which offers PDF manipulation.

The following command allowed me to combine PDF documents together easily:

gs -q -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=$outputName

To run the Shell script with PHP I simply used shell_exec($value);

Try it live